Chicago Public Schools lost access to a $4 million federal grant this year after failing to show it properly handled reports of sexual violence, the U.S. Department of Education said.
In a letter to the school district last Thursday, the department said that it suspended the Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant, according to the Chicago Tribune, after finding “serious and pervasive violations under Title IX.”
The suspension comes after the Tribune reported this summer on a host of sexual harassment and assault claims by students against teachers and other students that went unaddressed or were not investigated properly. Police investigated more than 520 cases of abuse and sexual assault against minors in Chicago public schools, the Tribune said in a summary of the report. The Department of Education said in its letter that the district did not meet its civil rights obligations in responding to the complaints or larger patterns of harm. An internal memo provided to the Tribune also referenced the district’s slow or incomplete responses to federal investigators looking into recent student complaints.
The district has four sexual violence investigations open currently, which is more than any other K-12 district in the country, according to analysis from the Tribune. Open cases involve Clemente Community Academy, Brennemann Elementary, Ogden International School, and Prosser Career Academy.
Chicago Public Schools formed a 20-person Office of Student Protections and Title IX this summer in response to the report to oversee investigations of student-on-student bullying and abuse.
“We are working tirelessly to address this pervasive societal challenge and safeguard our students—including by cooperating with the Department of Education,” spokesman Michael Passman said. He said the district plans to appeal, and it can receive the grant next year if it proves it is in compliance with civil rights obligations. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich